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Canoe Paddles buying guide

Canoe paddles are essential canoeing equipment. Being so crucial, it has a massive job of matching every user's needs with different requirements and levels of comfort.

It can be a tedious task to pick the best paddle out of so many out there. There are times when you find one but have to compromise with some other feature. This process is time-consuming and, if not carefully done, will drain all your money.

By referring to this buying guide, your task is reduced to a great extent. Here, you will learn about the significant aspects that affect your paddle and your canoeing style. These features have been elaborated to make you understand in a better possible way.

So, without wasting time, let's dive deep into the world of water activities and learn the importance of these divine paddles.

What do you mean by Canoe Paddles? Why do you need them?

Propelling a water vessel is a challenging process. You continuously have to use your hands to push back the surrounding water and move forward unless an electrical engine is used.

The old canoe users usually used a wooden rod with a small piece of wood at the bottom. But this ancient technique did not work. Instead, it gave rise to the modern-day canoe paddles.

These retain the same arrangement as the traditional paddle with some minor changes. The new design is lightweight, and the handle is longer with wider blades. This revolutionary design helps you displace water quickly in large amounts.

Besides, there are various benefits of using these propellers. You can go long distances in a short period without your arms getting tired. The wide blades help to push away the water in one stroke so that you can move fast.

Whether you are rafting or planning a casual fishing trip, these help you balance your boat and move silently.

Why should you refer to this buying guide before selecting suitable canoe paddles?

With several brands gloating over their products, you need to have a keen eye while pinning down a particular option. You need quick access to the necessary details of all the characteristics of the product.

By reading this buying guide, you will find all the critical factors organized in a well-structured way. You will get access to all the essential information under the roof, which will save you a lot of time. Also, you will get answers to several common questions and queries.

With a clear understanding of all the factors, you can save yourself from being duped by the salesmen. So without any further ado, let us dive into this extensive guide.

Types of Canoe Paddles by uses

  1. Wilderness tripping/ freestyle

If you plan for freestyle paddling, you should always search for a long paddle with slender blades. These are suitable if you want to travel long distances, for the blades' slenderness effectively displaces water. This ability helps your canoe to gain speed and move faster.

  1. River/Whitewater rafting

Many individuals opt for whitewater rafting to satisfy their adrenaline rush. This type of activity requires a paddle that has a short handle with wide and stiff blades.

The short handle enables you to apply more power while paddling and cut through the strong currents. The design of this type of paddle aids in steering your canoe even in the rough waters.

  1. Recreational

While doing recreational paddling, you need to focus more on efficiency. To provide the maximum power, these paddle types are not very flexible and feature wide blades. You get to use more canoeing techniques with this single paddle. This makes your paddling more fun and exciting.

  1. Racing/bent shaft

As the name suggests, these paddle types feature a bent shaft. This design offers more efficiency and power. By using these, you get an enhanced stroke-rate. If you have seen a boat or canoe races, you will notice that the racers use this paddle.

  1. Youth

If you are preparing your kid for canoeing, you need to invest in a paddle-type that is designed to meet their needs. Searching for paddles that have small blades is lightweight and durable. For more comfort, opt for the ones with short handles and can be balanced by your kid.

  1. Solo/double-bladed

If your peers are not joining you and you have decided to do it all alone, opt for a paddle-type that has a narrow and symmetrical blade with a short length. This design helps you to maintain balance in the rough waters while alone and move faster effortlessly.

Things to deem about while selecting appropriate Canoe Paddles


The weight of your canoe's paddle matters a lot. Since you will be paddling throughout the day with speed and power, there are chances of getting tired soon.

If you have a heavyweight paddle, you cannot use it with speed. Due to this slow movement, the stroke-rate will eventually decrease. To maintain your pace and reduce muscle fatigue, canoe paddles are excellent options.

These are lightweight and move swiftly. You feel comfortable while paddling, and the lightweight does not put a strain in your arm muscles.

These are the best paddles because they strike the right balance between weight, flexibility, and strength. You should also have a basic knowledge about the relationship between weight and flexibility.

  1. Lightweight and more flexible

Flexible paddles are mostly used during canoeing in flatwater. Being lightweight, the blade and the handle bend according to your convenience and quickly displace the surrounding water.

  1. Heavyweight and stiffer

Stiff paddles are preferred by rafters who like whitewater rafting. To cut through rough water, the blades have to be strong, and this requires some weight. Hence, if you want a stiffer paddle, you should opt for a heavyweight paddle.


Canoe paddles feature a length range of 52 inches to 60 inches, which is appropriate and preferred by many canoe users.

The choice of length depends on many factors, one of which is the vertical distance between you and the water's surface. Let's have a look at the ways of picking out the appropriate length.

The measurement is taken on the water

  1. To take the accurate measurement, you should use a physical canoe and sit inside it.
  2. Then take a measuring tool. Keep one end of this at the level of your nose and the other end near the water's surface.
  3. Taking this measurement as a reference, measure the entire length of the paddle you are interested in and compare the two distances.

Measurement in a walk-in store:

  1. You don't need the help of a measuring tool, and this makes it relatively easy to decide which one to opt for.
  2. The first step includes sitting on your knees while maintaining a distance of 6 inches between the floor's surface and your bottom.
  3. Then hold the desirable paddle in a position such that the paddle's handle is towards the floor.
  4. Now check if the paddle's throat ends somewhere in between your nose and the chin.

Measurement at home without a paddle

  1. You need to position yourself the same way as you would do in the store.
  2. The difference between the store and the house is the absence of a paddle.
  3. Grab your measuring tool to start the process.
  4. Measure the vertical distance between the floor's surface and your nose.
  5. This measurement should then be added to the paddle's blade length to decide the correct size.

After you have found a suitable length, the next step involves picking out the appropriate length that matches the action area.

Short paddles

Short paddles are suitable for areas that are likely to have rocks underneath the water. Whitewater rafting requires short paddles.

So, to pick out the perfect length, you should opt for a 2 inches shorter paddle than the one you have decided according to your measurement.

Longer paddles

If you are going for a lake tour and want to spend time experiencing the calmness, you should opt for longer paddles.

Since you will be paddling slowly, these paddles do not require you to bend at every stroke. Thus, allowing you to stay at the place and continue paddling with ease.

Blade Material

The most crucial part of any canoe paddle is the blade. It continuously stays in touch with the water, pushes your boat forward, and offers you comfort. The material it is made out of plays a very significant role. Let's see what it is made of!

  1. Wood

Wood is the most popular blade material. It is lightweight, flexible, and highly durable. Its life span is further increased by laminating or layering it with fiberglass or a tip guard.

Some variants feature the combination of both hard and softwood. Other than this, they do not require much maintenance. A touch of varnish or sanding will help it maintain its warming texture.

  1. Plastic/aluminum

These materials are inexpensive and last long. Like the wooden blades, these also require low maintenance. The only drawback is their weight. These are quite heavy, but the best part is, they are robust and indestructible.

If you are a beginner, you should opt for the blades made of these materials. Since they include an extra piece, it will be easy for you to change the damaged one and carry on.

  1. Fiberglass

Blades made of fiberglass cost a little more than the other materials but have other benefits also. Besides being lightweight, durable, and flexible, these require no maintenance at all.

You don't need to apply too much pressure while paddling. The paddles used in rafting usually have fiberglass blades included in them.


To have a comfortable voyage, having the right grip is essential. If you do not correctly grip your paddle, you can get fatigued and fail to enjoy it.

Canoe paddles come in two types of grips that are listed below. Depending on your ease, you can opt for a suitable one.

  1. Palm grip

When your paddle's handle can comfortably fit in your palm, the pressure applied by your hand will be more. This will increase the impact of your stroke and help you move faster.

The majority of the paddles have a palm grip because it enables you to paddle for a long duration.

  1. T- grip

You get a good grip on your paddle when it is the 'T-grip.' It offers precision in control. This type of grip is beneficial for newbie canoeists and young children who love rafting in rough waters.


The design of your paddle's shaft impacts your canoe's movement and the power applied by you. To know more in-depth, refer to the points below and then make an informed decision.

  1. Straight shaft

In the initial days, these canoe essentials featured only the straight shaft. This is a versatile shaft design and enables you easy maneuvering while you are fighting against the strong currents. These shafts are used in paddles meant for whitewater rafting.

  1. Bent shaft

Bent shaft paddles are the suitable ones to be used in flat water. This shaft increases the performance of the blade by regulating its position.

This is the significant advantage of using a bent shaft paddle; the blade automatically gets accustomed to the needs.

If you are fishing and do not want to disturb the aquatic beings, this is the best option. Bent shaft paddles move in and out of the water quietly and smoothly.

  1. Double bent shaft

These are the most recent addition to the paddling world and reduce your wrist's stress while paddling. This works the same as the bent shaft paddles. The bending angle ranges from 7 degrees to 14 degrees. This increases the efficiency of all the strokes that you make.

Blade Size and shape

Canoe paddles feature two types of blade size and shape. You must not forget that it is the blade that helps propel your canoe by pushing back the surrounding water.

Before you set out to make the wrong purchase, have a look at both the types. Carefully scan their pros and cons and then opt for the excellent paddle.

  1. Larger blades

  1. These blades are very efficient because they propel your canoe faster.
  2. If you compare the larger blade to a slender shaped one, you will find that the larger blade works well. It gives out powerful strokes and displaces the water quickly.
  3. You can easily steer your canoe by using a larger blade.
  1. Since larger blades require more power, you will get fatigued pretty soon.
  2. It becomes quite challenging to paddle your canoe when a strong wind is blowing because of the large area attracting wind currents.
  1. Smaller blades

  1. A smaller blade does not strain your joints or muscles.
  2. This is easier to use during windy circumstances.
  1. You need to paddle faster to maintain your speed. Because the blade is small, the amount of water displaced is less.
  2. You find it difficult to steer your boat quickly in emergencies.
  3. Since less power is applied, the boat doesn't move with high speed.


Another vital aspect to consider is the tip of your paddle. Canoe paddles feature two different tip designs. Both the types are mentioned below for making your search more convenient.

  1. Rounded tip

A paddle with a round tip is highly stable and ideal for flatwater cruising. This is not very efficient to use, but it's the stability that it is famous for. Besides, this cannot endure strong impacts and gets damaged.

  1. Square tip

Rafting enthusiasts highly prefer paddles with square tips. These are very efficient and can endure strong impacts. To fight with the strong currents of the rough water, a square tip is the best choice.

You will also find variants that have fiberglass tip guards. This guard helps to increase the impact resistance of this paddle.


There are times when you get hit by a big wave and lose control of your paddle. Once the paddle is out of grip, it may either sink or get lost.

To stay safe in the middle of nowhere and be assured that your handle is always in view, switch to floatable paddles. These do not sink when lost and continue floating on the water surface. This increases your chance of locating them and returning home as soon as possible.

Canoe paddles are designed to float when not in touch. Thanks to this incredible innovation, your canoeing trip becomes enjoyable and effortless!


Price is the primary concern whenever you are headed towards buying new sports gear. With the existence of canoe paddles, you need not worry about your budget.

If you have a limited budget and use plan canoeing occasionally, there are many options for you. You can buy paddles made of wood, plastic, or aluminum. These do not cost too much and are very reliable.

Many fashionable paddles are also in circulation in the market these days. Without the restriction on budget, you can look for the incredible designs and high-quality paddles. This will help you in your frequent canoeing trips and stay with you for very long.

How to Size A Canoe Paddle?

By now, you must have got a basic idea about the key features of a paddle. The size of your paddle is a very significant feature to be considered. The things you should consider are your hand's position and the seat's height.

To pick out the appropriate size, you need to focus on the process of sizing it. In the earlier sections, you must have come across three sizing methods, which included the measurement in-store, at home, and in the canoe. Another excellent technique is to use a broomstick.

  1. Paddle in the water while sitting inside your canoe. You should paddle in the usual way.
  2. Take out your broomstick and check its shaft.
  3. The length up to which the broomstick's shaft is dry is the paddle's size that you should opt for.

This way, you will be able to buy yourself a perfect, long-lasting, and effective canoe paddle. Just ensure that you opt for the right material and the size.


  1. I am new to canoeing. What are the main factors that I should look into while selecting the canoe paddles?

Two critical characteristics are the length and weight of the product. For the length aspect, you should go for the ones that suit your height so that the blade and grip of the paddles are in the right position.

Paddling with light paddles will always cause less fatigue. You can cover more distance and enjoy the activity without any aggressive exercise.

Carbon Fibre blades are highly durable and quite light in weight. However, they come with a high price tag but are totally worth their value.

  1. How should I measure the paddle outside water to opt for the right length?

Selecting the right length paddles Is vital to enjoying the activity. Typically, the handle of the product will reach your nose height, whereas the throat part will touch the water surface.

You can easily judge the right length outside the water. Bend your knees and sit on the ground. Place the handle of the product on the ground in an upright position. For the correct length, according to your height, the throat of the paddle will reach a height between your nose and chin approximately.

If the height of paddles is shorter or longer then this region, then the length is not suitable according to your height.

  1. What is the correct way to hold the product?

Holding the paddles in the correct way is vital to have powerful strokes. Your one hand goes over the handle to make a firm grip. The other hand resides on the shaft that is approximately one foot above the throat of the product.

When you hold the paddles in this way, you can deliver more power with a firm grip without any strain on your hands. It is the best way to deliver powerful and precise strokes.

T grip style is better suited for fast water for strong strokes, while palm grip style is more comfortable and best suited for flat water.

Final Verdict

Selecting the correct canoe paddles to make all the difference between a fun experience and a frustrating expedition. You have to equip your canoe with the best paddles to enjoy the thrilling activity.

Here in this guide, we have presented all the critical factors that define the usability and performance of the product. Go through them and select an elite product. / - © Copyright 2020